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Top stories 2017: DCF tries to sever parental rights of Groton couple

A Groton couple whose son nearly died while in the care of the Department of Children and Families fought a petition to terminate their parental rights at trial this fall. The department sought to sever the parental rights of Kirsten Fauquet to her five children, ages 6, 5, 3, 2 and 1, and of John Stratzman, the biological father of three of the children. The couple's 3-year-old son suffered near-starvation after DCF placed him in the foster home of an unlicensed relative.

A decision by Judge John C. Driscoll is pending in Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in Waterford. He has 120 days to issue a ruling. DCF cited the couple's inability to pay rent and the mother's mental health among reasons to terminate their rights, saying the parents are unable to care for five children. The attorney for the mother said the state inflicted harm and failed to make "reasonable efforts" to reunify the parents with their children.

Some saw the case as highlighting issues in Connecticut's child welfare system, including the prevalence of poverty among parents in the system and the subjectivity of parenting standards used by the agency.

— Deborah Straszheim

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